Sheila Pree Bright Untitled #20 from Suburbia 2005
After our Masks & Mirrors exhibition, Ellen and I decided we wanted to do a show featuring the female artists in our collection. It raised the obvious question of whether we would do a show featuring the male artists in our collection and other gender bias issues but at the end of the day we decided the egregious under-representation of women artists in the art world in general warranted a celebration of their work in the Cassilhaus Collection. We have been collecting for 15 years and we wanted to celebrate that anniversary as well. Ellen suggested that we curate it together, our first co-curation, and Private Portals: The Cassilhaus Collection Celebrates 15 Years Discovering Girl Power was born. Girl Power references the Girl Power Room which is the project gallery at the far East end of the Gallery. We had a show of incredibly powerful female portraits in the space back in 2010 and someone came through and said "wow I can just feel the girl power in here" and the name stuck. The exhibition explored various interpretations of transition, passage, private space, and entry points into other worlds and included 53 works by 46 artists. A complete checklist can be downloaded here-- Private Portals Checklist Final.
The inimitable Neil Patterson, a true gentleman and scholar, lends a hand during installation of the show. Who looks THIS GOOD during install????
Jaco and Joni lend a paw or two but mostly make painting challenging.
One of the biggest buzzes of the show was generated by a new piece that Ellen discovered recently by Welsh artist Helen Sear called Inside the View #17. In this series Sear, the 2015 Welsh delegate to the Venice Biennale, superimposes portrait and landscape images in PhotoShop and then uses a stylus tool to selectively eliminate parts of one of the images in varying proportions across the entire image.
Cheryle St. Onge Untitled from Natural Findings Series 2012
Anne Schwalbe Falten 2009
The opening as usual was a smash.
We had a sister show to Private Portals in the Girl Power Room by Durham NC based artist Lisa McCarty called Developer Drawings. The series Developer Drawings is an experiment to make photographs using only light and the varying developers contained in Polaroid and Impossible Project Instant film. Rather than expose the instant film with a camera, McCarty tests the parameters of the materials themselves by using the developer encased in the frame of every print to compose an image. As she manipulates the developer under the plastic skin of the print surface, the existing light triggers reactions which change the color and the texture of the developer and film emulsion below it. Every drawing records a new expression of the photographic material and the agency of light, demonstrating that there is already a latent image inside of each instant film print, waiting to be released.
Lisa commandeered three of our flat file drawers in the Girl Power Room to do expansive layouts of pieces in the series. She showed several groupings of 8 "drawings" in a single frame together in the show, representing a pack of instant film. I asked her if I could make my own grouping of 8 from one of the flat file drawers and this is what I came up with and now we have this grouping framed up in our collection. Below is a close-up of one of the 8.
During the run of the show Lisa gave an artist talk on her work. She is a great speaker and it greatly increased my understanding and appreciation of the work.
A huge amount of work goes into putting these shows together and even though a fair number of people get to see them during their run it always pains me to take them down and disperse them. I hit upon the idea of "traveling" Private Portals, minus the McCarty exhibition, to my office, KONTEK Systems, in Downtown Durham where it could be on display for our staff and also for the monthly 3rd Friday Art Walks in Durham. We had to make some changes and reduce the size of the show to accommodate the space but it was exciting to see new pairings and juxtapositions and it was a big hit on the artwalk. I think we will more actively curate this space now and make even more active use of our collection.
Artists Heather Gordon, Tama Hochbaum, and Lori Vrba at the opening with my wife Ellen Cassilly and Cassilhaus artist in residence Olivia Parker.
When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.